TAMPA, Fla. — As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prepare to enter their second season under coach Greg Schiano, co-chairman Bryan Glazer can sense a rising interest in the team.
Offseason acquisitions included signing cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Dashon Goldson in an attempt to correct the NFL’s worst pass defense from last season. The Bucs also extended the contract of productive wide receiver Mike Williams, who inked a six-year, $40.25 million deal last Wednesday.
Glazer was present for the Bucs’ night practice Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. The team estimated that 33,000 fans attended the event, which included meet and greets with players, as well as a 2 ½-hour practice.
Here is what Glazer had to say to reporters about a number of Bucs topics before the practice.
On the season’s start: “We are very, very excited about the season this year. Obviously, with all the additions to the team, you can see the fans are very happy.”
On the team’s reception throughout the Tampa Bay region: “I think you see it throughout the whole community. I think you see an atmosphere where people are very excited this year about the team. They see the offseason moves we made, and it reflecting in the ticket sales we’re doing. We have a ways to go, but there has been an improvement in sales.”
On locking up players to long-term contracts: “They’re players we want to keep. The players — their contracts are starting to wind down. We want to extend their contract for long periods of time, to lock them in. We brought these Buccaneer men in, and we want to keep them on this team.”
On if this is the right time to spend: “Nothing has changed. We’ve always said we want to get the core of the football team through the draft. Once we have the core, we’re able to spend in free agency to bring it to the next level.”
On minimizing blackouts: “I think we’re heading in the right direction. Obviously, the team is getting a lot better. The community is very enthusiastic. The economy is getting better. Everything is coming together at the right time.”
On if he senses momentum building: “You feel it when you’re in the locker room. You look around at the players that we have today. We have a tremendous core of young, young players, and it’s exciting to me to see this. We have an offense that can keep up with anybody in the league. That has not been seen before in Tampa for a long time. The players on defense are growing in their positions. We’ve added great players. We have a very good football team that is only headed in the right direction.”
On general manager Mark Dominik’s performance: “It’s never easy to make the transition from one team to the next, and Mark has done a very good job. One of his greatest strengths is working with our head coach. He is very close with Greg on all of the decisions that they make on bringing in the proper guys and also moving on from the people that aren’t Buccaneer men on this team.”
On signing cornerback Darrelle Revis: “It was the right place at the right time. First of all you don’t have the opportunity to get a player that could be the best player of his generation at a position at a young age. But at the same time, we had a young team that was ready to fit that position in. If this were three or four years ago, I don’t know if this was the right fit. But now we are ready for a player like Darrelle Revis.”
On coach Greg Schiano: “Greg’s a great person. Greg’s a strong football coach, a strong family man. He’s got great qualities. That’s the reason we hired him. He’s someone who you’d want to hang out with your kids. At the same time, he can be a mentor to these young players, a teacher, and then a great football coach.”
On expectations for Schiano in his second season: “I think we would expect the same he expects. We expect improvement from players, growth from players and improvement across the board from the whole football team.”
On the culture change under Schiano: “They did buy in, but it’s also because we have the right group of guys. If you don’t have the right group of football players in the locker room, they’re not going to buy into anybody. But we have the right group of men.”
On offensive tackle Donald Penn: “Donald Penn wants to win. Donald Penn is proud of the way he has treated his body. In the past, he was heavier. I told him I have never seen him so thin in my entire life. He worked so hard to get where he is. Here’s a guy who appreciates the position that he is in. … He’s motivated because he knows what the team is around him.”
On quarterback Josh Freeman: “Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are family. And our head coach and general manager are all on the same page. So there are no problems there. We are all on the same page.”
On how Freeman must play this season: “Josh is working very hard. We expect great things from Josh this year. I’m confident that he’ll do it.”
On competition throughout the NFC: “I focus on our football team and how I think we’re going to do and how I think our team is. You can’t predict other teams. Every year, teams that are supposed to be good don’t turn out to be good – they have injuries. Yes, we have a tough division, but it only represents a very few of our games, a handful. We play a lot of games outside our division. If we take care of our business and play football, sound football, we’ll be just fine.”
On Warren Sapp’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction: “It will be a great moment for me. My first official act, the year we bought the team, I went with my father to Canton, Ohio, to see (former Bucs defensive lineman) Lee Roy Selmon inducted into the Hall of Fame. And to now see … our first draft pick, our first pick under our ownership, make the Hall of Fame, we’re really proud of that.”
On blackouts: “Obviously, things are getting better. Obviously, there has been improvement in ticket sales. We still have a ways to go. But things are better. There’s enthusiasm in this community, and we’re confident that there will be a lot more games on TV than there were last year.”